Ryan McKeel, Staff Writer
Wingate University’s Pep Band gears up for the first home game of the 2017 season on Saturday, September 16 at 6:00 PM at Irwin Belk Stadium.
The Pep Band, Wingate’s premiere athletic performing ensemble, has been under the direction of Dr. Dawn Price, Associate Professor of Music and Director of Bands at Wingate University, for ten years.
With performances at select Volleyball games as well as all home Football games, the Pep Band strives to bring Wingate spirit to any game they attend. “My favorite Pep Band activity, besides playing music, is helping engage the crowd in cheering on the sports teams,” said Junior Dariyhn Lee.
A common theme in both rehearsals and games amongst the band members is the excitement for the game. With their music ready to go and instruments in hand, the band members are often the loudest ones in the stands cheering on their fellow bulldogs.
The band hasn’t always dominated a section in the stadiums, says Dr. Price. “The band has grown from 17 members in 2008 to now 47 members. The overall ability of the group has improved as well.”
Dr. Price strives to give every band member an opportunity to gain something from their time in the stadiums. “[Pep Band] gives students, both music majors and non-majors, an opportunity to play their instruments in sports and entertainment events,” she said. “The band also provides a wide variety of music intended to promote spirit at the various athletic events at which we play.”
Other key game day members have noted the, no pun intended, pep that the band brings. Head Football Coach, Joe Reich commented on the “special energy” that the band provides. “That is college football, having the band playing and the crowd cheering. That’s good stuff.”
The Pep Bands partner in crime, The Wingate University Cheerleader’s, have built a bond based on excitement and cheer with the musicians. “I think that the cheerleaders and pep band have been growing a relationship over the past few years,” said head cheer coach Kelly Sheppard. “We love the energy that the band gives us… I literally have to tell the girls to stay calm when the band starts up.”
Several of the Pep Band members have commented on the importance of their halftime shows.“I love performing for the people in the stands and hearing them sing along,” said junior Taylor Eudy. “It is exciting to be out there on that field and give the folks in the stand a chance to hear some tunes that they are familiar with.”
Other students in the stands have also felt the excitement that the band brings when their on the field. “It kind of stops you in your tracks. You can’t help but turn around and watch their show,” said senior Naomi Askew.
Athletes at games always find a way to show their support to the band members. Whether it’s a salute or shouted “Thanks!” from the football players celebrating a victory on the field, or a line of volleyball players after their win inside Cuddy Arena, most come together in some way to thank the band either at the stadium or in passing on campus.
When asked about their favorite tune, 12 of the 15 respondents listed Mark Ronson’s & Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk”.
Edited by: Brea Childs
Photo credit: Wingate University Athletics